The Wisconsin man alleged to have killed a trio of Girl Scouts and a mother as they collected trash along a rural road Saturday reportedly struggled with a passenger to maintain control of the vehicle before the horrific hit-and-run crash, according to authorities.
As previously reported by CrimeOnline citing NBC news, 21-year-old Colten Treu of Chippewa Falls may have been huffing chemicals before the crash that claimed the lives of Jayna Kelley, 9; Autumn Helgeson, 10; Halee Hickle, 10; and her 32-year-old mother Sara Jo Schneider.
Another 10-year-old critically injured in the crash reportedly remains in stable condition in a hospital. The group was reportedly wearing green safety vests when they were struck, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported.
According the newspaper, citing a criminal complaint, Treu told police he and roommate John Stender Jr. had been inhaling computer keyboard cleaner just before the fatal crash near Lake Hallie. Treu reportedly said he “lost control of the vehicle and fishtailed after Mr.Stender grabbed the steering wheel from him.”
Stender allegedly admitted in a written statement trying to wrestle the wheel away, but “Treu yelled at him, grabbed the wheel and swerved hard” causing the truck to enter a ditch where it hit the victims. Stender and Treu reportedly fled following the crash but authorities followed a “fluid leak” trail from the black Ford F-150 pickup truck to an apartment they shared, according to the newspaper.
Treu and Stender were not at the apartment when police arrived, but reportedly surrendered about five hours later.
Treu is charged with four counts of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle, four counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, four counts of hit-and-run involving death, and one count of hit-and-run involving great bodily harm.
Information was not immediately available whether charges have been filed against Stender.
Judy Schneider, who is the mother of Sara Jo Schneider and Haylee’s grandmother, told the Associated Press she is puzzled by the crash.
“What was the driver thinking? And my first thought was, ‘Let’s just prosecute the hell out of him. And then what? Do they come back?”
[Feature Photo: Colten Treu/Police Handout]